Hiking in the Wasatch (Mountain) Range east of Salt Lake City, the Aspens are golden and shimmering, doing their quaking thing in the autumn sun.
I am with land conservation colleagues, taking an afternoon off from the seminars at the annual Land Trust Alliance Rally.
This year’s seminars cover topics ranging from “GIS and Web Mapping for Land Trusts” to “Conservation Defense Insurance” to “Working with the IRS” to “Developing Successful Working Forest Easements with TIMOs and REITs”. I focus on those addressing forest management, legal issues, and long-term planning.
As we hike, we marvel at the views, our good fortune to be doing this work and how the work of land conservation has changed. We also discuss theme that is on many of my colleagues’ minds: land conservation is entering a new phase. In this next chapter, our focus will be on managing the lands already saved—we call it stewardship. It turns out that when we “save” some of the redwood forest (or when colleagues save some of a river, farm or mountain) we have to keep saving it.
Although the land is “protected,” it still needs care, management and further protection. The initial purchase of the land is just the tip of the iceberg; the 2-3 year complicated process of acquiring the land from a willing seller is followed by a perpetual obligation to make sure that the land remains saved and protected.
At the League, much of the land that we have saved with money generously donated by our members is now in State and National Parks. Though the parks’ resources are dwindling, the League continues to work with park staff to make sure that the lands remain protected and open for enjoyment by the public.
Some of the redwood forest that we have saved is still in private hands, protected by conservation easements. Those agreements require that the League visit the land regularly to make sure that the restrictions protecting the land are followed—and we do so, year after year.
Your continued engagement and financial support is essential so that we can continue this ongoing work. The League has saved more than 189,000 acres of redwood forest, yet we must and will continue to re-save those same 189,000 acres every day… in perpetuity.